Information flow in sensory neurons

M. DeWeese, W. Bialek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Recent experiments show that the neural codes at work in a wide range of creatures share some common features. At first sight, these observations seem unrelated. However, we show that all of these features of the code arise naturally in a simple threshold crossing model when we choose the threshold to maximize the transmitted information. This maximization process requires neural adaptation to not only the d.c. signal level, as in conventional light and dark adaptation (for example), but also to the statistical structure of the signal and noise distributions. Interestingly, if we fix the threshold level, we can observe a peak in the transmitted information at a finite value of the input signal-to-noise ratio. However, when we allow the threshold to adapt to the statistical structure of the signal and noise, the transmitted information is always monotonically increasing with increasing input signal-to-noise ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-741
Number of pages9
JournalIl Nuovo Cimento D
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Conference proceedings
  • General, theoretical, and mathematical biophysics (including logic of biosystems, quantum biology, and relevant aspects of thermodynamics, information theory, cybernetics, and bionics)


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